Editorial: Some thoughts on Cebu City’s ‘war against flood’

The aim of Cebu City leaders under Mayor Michael Rama to ease the city’s flooding problems deserves praise. Flooding has negative effects on the local economy and human health—it is, figuratively speaking, a multi-headed monster. It causes discomfort to commuters going to their workplaces or to their homes, delays students’ attendance of their classes, disrupts business operations, creates traffic along major thoroughfares, and it also can injure or kill.With the Rama administration’s earnest effort to solve the flooding dilemma, it has appointed former environment secretary Roy Cimatu, who is also a retired military official, to lead the City’s Task Force Gubat sa Baha (War against Flood) or TFGB.The person, if not the mayor himself, who came up with the task force’s name has the gift of gab. Perhaps, the person, or it could be a group of people, intentionally named it TFGB as homage to Cimatu’s military experience.Mayor Rama signed Executive Order 2 on Aug. 19, 2022, forming the TFGB. Cimatu is its chairman. Cimatu’s work will include overseeing the City Environment and Natural Resources Office, the Department of Public Services and other related offices to ensure that the City will achieve the mayor’s vision of a Singapore-like Cebu City, news reports said.Task Force Gubat sa Baha sounds funny, but the comic effect is head-scratching. If one takes the “war against flood” in its literal sense, one could ask what kind of enemy a flood is? Must authorities arm themselves with high-powered firearms to defeat baha?The “war against flood” rhetoric could also bring to mind the very recent, much-maligned war on drugs of former President Rodrigo Duterte. What would TFGB do? Would it be cold-blooded in dealing with people whose houses or business establishments encroached on the three-meter easement zone along waterways?Why not name the group simply as Task Force Batok sa Baha (against flood)? Simplicity is a sign of humility. Task Force Gubat sa Baha is over the top, a sign of hubris.The group’s name does not matter really; it is just rhetoric to add color to the city officials’ actions.What matters for city residents is the end result of the city officials’ “war against flood.” If the Rama administration succeeds in its “war,” it must be afforded praise, rightfully so. If its “war against flood” fails within Rama’s three-year term, then his administration must prepare for another war—a war against public ridicule.